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Venue Licensing Laws To Be Amended?
The Quietus , January 20th, 2012 07:30

Live Music Bill currently passing through House Of Commons proposes to remove some of the licensing restrictions on small music venues

The Live Music Bill, which proposes amendments to the Licensing Act of 2003, is going before the House Of Commons again today. If passed, it would relax the laws around the licensing of small live music venues.

The Licensing Act of 2003 attracted controversy in music industry circles when it was first introduced. By requiring that any venue playing live music (or recording music for people to dance to) had its own license, regardless of the venue's size, it was criticised for having a disproportionate effect on smaller venues. Tiny pub and bar venues would have to go through a lengthy process of applying for a license. They could also have their licenses turned down, potentially robbing them of a significant proportion of their revenue. The ultimate effect, it was feared, would be to have a massive impact on the careers of young and upcoming artists and underground musicians, who would rely on these venues for at least some of their income.

The Live Music Bill suggests relaxing the laws around smaller venues. Lord Tim Clement-Jones, who introduced the bill in the House of Lords in July 2010, stated that he feels the Licensing Act 2003 has had a "deadening on the performance of live music in smaller venues."

If passed, the Bill would make venues under 200 capacity exempt from the Licensing Act. This would obviously be a huge step for smaller spaces like pubs, churches and community centres, making it easier to put on live performances without having to wade through miles of red tape beforehand.

The Bill would also ensure that the concerns of local residents were still kept into account (one of the main reasons for the original Act's strict licensing conditions). It would allow specific conditions to be placed on the licenses of venues. You can read a full summary of the Bill here.

The Live Music Bill originally went before the Commons in the latter part of last year. It reaches Report Stage in the House of Commons today (20th January 2011). It has apparently received support from across political parties, and also from UK Music and the Musicians Union, who support its proposal to remove some of the current restrictions on smaller live music events.

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